Fall Walk in Sugarloaf Open SpaceStart at the Bridle Lane entrance to Sugarloaf Open Space.
A November walk along this Sugarloaf trail is possible if heavy rains have not come yet. You will have excellent views in all directions once you reach the top of Sugarloaf Hill. When you enter Bridle Lane, look for a paved trail between two houses on the left side of the cul-de-sac. Walk down this path and you will soon reach the Open Space entrance. Go through the entrance gate and follow the unpaved Bottom Spring Trail ahead of you. The starting elevation is 380 ft.; you will travel 1.0 miles to the Young's Valley Road entrance.
Entrance to trail from Bridle Lane cul-de-sac
The trail starts off almost flat and then becomes progressively more steep as you drop into a valley. An oak-studded meadow appears on your right. The bottom of this valley is the dampest portion of the trail. If you can negotiate this section you should be fine for the rest of the walk.
After you reach the bottom of this valley, which has a private entrance, you will go uphill to your right along a ravine and then take a switchback toward the top of Sugarloaf Hill. Note the green grass beginning to grow along the trail in mid-November. Watch and listen for Meadowlarks on the hillside as you traverse this area. As you come up the next section of trail, observe the massive valley oak with its unbalanced limbs reaching to the left.
You will now climb a steep hill to the top of Sugarloaf. If you begin to feel daunted, note that there will be a bench at the top of the hill where you can rest and take in the panoramic views surrounding Walnut Creek. The summit elevation is 520 ft.
View of Mt. Diablo from the top of Sugarloaf Hill
Visibility is particularly good on crisp autumn and winter days after rain has fallen. Fall colors also add to the pleasure of a walk during this time of the year. As you observe your surroundings from this summit, you may see Oregon Juncos, Red-Tail Hawks, Western Bluebirds, or Gold-Crowned Sparrows.
When you are ready to proceed, continue north from the scenic bench and take the first right turn to head down to the main Sugarloaf entrance at Young's Valley Road. You will be headed east and you will see the sawtooth hills of Lime Ridge in the direction. As you continue downhill, look to your left for a view of the orchard at the base of the hill. This is a nice side trip when you reach the Young's Valley entrance.
At the bottom of the hill (elevation 230 ft.), you reach the Young's Valley entrance, where you will find picnic tables, water, and restrooms available. Look around for farm equipment and other artifacts preserved on the site. Looking and listening for birds at this entrance, you may see a Northern Flicker at the top of a tree or Western Bluebirds flying back and forth between perches and grasses.
Farm artifact at Young's Valley entrance to Sugarloaf Open Space
You may want to take the alternative Center Trail or Orchard Trail back to the top of Sugarloaf Hill on your way back to Bridle Lane entrance. Enjoy your visit to Sugarloaf Open Space!
Bob and Cindy Brittain
November 28, 2003